Party + Picnic Ideas

Make It Good

Air pollution in Paris : Eiffel tower through a haze of pollution in Paris

Photo source: AFP, via Le Monde

The past few weeks, Paris has seen very sunny winter: weather hitting 19-20 C during the day while it dipped to 3-5 C in the coldest mornings. We were overjoyed, obviously. We started to ditch the heavy cloaks, queuing for ice creams & sorbets during the day. The parks were full of people strolling and picnicking. It was the mildest winter, no snow to date and we were happy. We had enough of the cold weather. Then the smog happens. The Tour Eiffel disappeared. All public transports were free for 3 days. And today, only odd plate number vehicules can roam within Paris & its immediate surrounding.

Having lived the Indonesian forest fire and been to Shanghai on numerous occasions, there’s no comparison or reason to complain. The current pollution is bad, but it is still below their levels.

On the good side of things, I have been enjoying what the doctor calls high metabolism rate. Every girl’s dream: to be able to eat everything without putting on weight. I can see the finish line, starting to get the hospital bag ready and washing the tiny clothes. Ready or not, this little baby is coming! The only damper in my mood is the nightly leg cramps.
Baked Chicken Curry Puff 3
Curry Puff filling
Anyway, here’s one of my favorite snack, curry puffs : the cousin of samosa. Sometimes I also add boiled eggs. I usually make the dough myself, but this time round I use the ready made puff pastry. You can fry them or bake them, they are equally good. (more…)

I Snack. We Snack.

Dill Pakora

When I was hunting for chickpea flour to make Socca, I knew right away the next thing I was going to make is pakora, my all time favorite Indian snack especially Gobi Pakora (with cauliflower). I know it’s not the right thing to make since my throat has been itchy the past few days, but if there’s a thing I couldn’t resist, it’s deep fried snacks.

Dill Pakora 3

Of course, pakora is not complete until you make the chutney. But I’m going to confess, mine didn’t taste as great. I suspect it’s because I over-pounded the herbs, turning it a little bitter. I need to get a private lesson with M’s sister.

Dill Pakora 4

I was a little worried since H isn’t really big on dill and has never eaten a pakora before. But when he continuously asked if I was done with the photos and if he could eat more, I know my husband adores the snack as much as I do.

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The Majesty in Simplicity

Simple Barley Salad

I’m insanely in love with this simple barley salad. Light, crunchy and full of flavors. Perfect for midweek dinner, something that I can prepare in advance. At times I add crumbled feta, sliced chorizo or other protein, but the main ingredients remain the same.

Barley Salad

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Unchartered Water

This business of moving to a new place is an oxymoron. Exciting yet daunting. Hopeful yet stressful. I never quite get the hang of it. It is frightening every single time. From wading through the traffic and unknown street, deciding when to cross the road when the cars don’t seem slowing down for you to searching the right hair salon and where to get stuffs, to finding people you want to hang out with for the rest of your life. Even between H & I, we need new tactics. What worked for us in Angola is not working for us here.

The last couple of weeks have been about moving from one place to another. But this week onward is going to be about establishing some routines, setting some goals and getting into the swing of things. It’s time to take the steering wheel back.

Bresaola with Ricotta & Arugula
The supermarket here has soooooo many things that I don’t even know where to begin. Filling the fridge with TV dinners is way too easy. I still don’t really know what is in season right now, besides that strawberries are abundant but not exactly sweet yet. (more…)

Most Loves Don’t Last, But Some Do

Capers Pizza
Capers Pizza 02
Capers Pizza

“Yeah, everybody’s got a talent. I can memorize things. And you can ..?”
“Um, I know a lot of people’s last words.” It was an indulgence, learning last words. Other people had chocolate, I had dying declarations.
“Example?”
“I like Henrik Ibsen’s. He was a playwright.” I knew a lot about Ibsen, but I’d never read any of his plays. I didn’t like reading plays. I liked reading biographies.
“Yeah, I know who he was,” said Chip.
“Right, well, he’d been sick for a while and his nurse said to him, ‘You seem to be feeling better this morning’ and Ibsen looked at her and said ‘On the contrary,’ and then he died.”

– Looking For Alaska, by John Green

Well, I have a lot of indulgences. Like buying every single ingredient I can find even if eventually only to be used in one particular recipe. Caper is a good example. I still have three quarter of the jar full and I need to use them fast. H will pick them out if he sees them whole, but when I hide them like this, no bribery and choking needed. If you, too, don’t particularly care for capers, here’s another recipe on just sun dried tomatoes and lots of cheese.

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My Idyllic Sunday

I didn’t think much about this song when I first heard it, but when I heard it again for the second time, I became really curious about the timing the drummer when he first entered the song. The drummer was so off tangent from the base rhythm that at for a split second, I felt he was going to ruin it all, until finally the two blended with sinew. Ahh, be still my heart. I don’t know why but these kinds of things irk and fascinate me.

Olive Ham Cheese Cake 4
Anyway, I’m trying to broaden my repertoire a little bit, by using an ingredient that I never use before: green olive. So I decided to make this savory loaf of olive, ham & cheese. I was skeptical initially, because my salt tolerant is pretty low and green olives are way up there in terms of saltiness. I much prefer the black olives, but I haven’t been able to find pitted black olives. I’m pretty sure they exist, just not in my world here. And then the combination of ham (I actually used chorizo) and cheese and the olives – seems like going to be super duper salty.

Olive Ham Cheese Cake 02 Olive Ham Cheese Cake 01
Well, the result is pretty interesting. Yes the olives are too salty for me but the bread/cake can deter a little bit. I think it’s also a good call to use a mild flavor cheese (in my case, Swiss’ tete de moine). One should not be surprised how moist the loaf is given the quantity of oil used, borderline sinful.. but I am extremely pleased with how it turned out. I’m very happy with the batter, almost like a pancake batter fortified with baking powder, that I can easily swap the olives for ingredients that I like, such as .. edamame.

Olive Ham Cheese Cake 7

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This Is Happiness

The great part about long weekend is that after the partying, the debauching, the stuffing ourselves and the groceries, all said and done, we suddenly found ourselves with an extra day to sleep in and wake up late. Sweet. Now if only the dirty dishes can clean themselves, it would be super.

Appetizer
When making appetizers, puff pastry is probably my best friend. It’s easily available, not too pricey and any left over dough can easily be converted to croissants or pain au chocolat. No waste, which I like. They can be baked at the very last minute and served warm. And I really, really, like my food warm.

Appetizer 3
I don’t have a fix recipe for this. I taste and adjust as I go along. But the good news is, it’s super easy. (more…)